The Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) has an ongoing investigation to evaluate the behavior of Small Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (SAVs) and Micro Aerial Vehicles (MAVs) flying through an urban setting. This research is being conducted through the Cooperative Operations in UrbaN TERrain (COUNTER) 6.2 research and flight demonstration program. COUNTER is a theoretical and experimental program to develop the technology needed to integrate a single SAV, four MAVs, and a human operator for persistent intelligence, reconnaissance and surveillance for obscured targets in an urban environment. The research involves development of six-degree-of-freedom models for integration into simulations, modeling and integration of wind data for complex urban flows, cooperative control task assignment and path planning algorithms, video tracking and obstacle avoidance algorithms, and an Operator Vehicle Interface (OVI) system. The COUNTER concept and the contributing technologies will be proven via a series of flight tests and system demonstrations.
The first of six planned COUNTER flight demonstrations occurred in July of 2005. This demonstration focused on the simultaneous flight operations of both the SAV and the MAV while displaying their respective telemetry data on a common ground station (OVI). Current efforts are focused on developing the architecture for the Cooperative Control Algorithm. In FY 2006, the COUNTER program will demonstrate the ability to pass vehicle waypoints from the OVI station to the SAV and MAV vehicles. In FY 2007, COUNTER will focus on solutions to the optical target tracking (SAV) and obstacle avoidance (MAV) issues.